Published Nov 16, 2017 in TheStand.org
By Kipp Robertson
As National Apprenticeship Week kicks off, a new report from the Working for America Institute and Jobs With Justice Education Fund profiles a Washington state apprenticeship program as a successful example of a workforce intermediary partnership. These partnerships bring together unions and employers to recruit, train, and diversify the workforce for a given industry or a specific employer. The involvement of unions ensures employer training programs that benefit the company also benefit workers and their communities by creating pathways to family-sustaining careers.
In Washington, the Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee (AJAC) brings together local labor, employers, community groups, educational institutions and local government to develop and fund cost-efficient training programs that respond to aerospace industry needs, create career opportunities for disadvantaged communities, and provide real paths for advancement for workers who invest their time and effort in training programs. For example, between 2014 and 2017 the AJAC served 717 apprentices, including 418 new apprentices enrolled in registered apprenticeship (RA) programs and in early 2017, launched the state’s first apprenticeship program for youth to enter the industry directly out of high school.
There are an estimated 243 workforce intermediaries in the U.S., though the report focuses on programs that specifically partner with unions. The gap in wages between college and high school graduates has increased since 2001, up to 57 percent in 2016, and many employers report difficulty finding workers with the expertise needed in sectors such as manufacturing, health care, transportation, and construction.
Workforce intermediary partnerships are spreading across the country to help address these problems and meet the dual needs of employers and working people. Workforce intermediary partnerships:
► Bring together unions and employers to assess the training needs of firms in a given sector or region;
► Help to customize the training, apprenticeship and educational services required;
► Cultivate the partners needed to produce the training;
► Recruit oftentimes from disadvantaged communities; and
► Ensure that those individuals who invest in their employment security will be rewarded with meaningful advancement along a career ladder.
Progress is evident in a number of industries in diverse localities. Hotel restaurant employees in Boston and Los Angeles, for example, are accessing free classes to move into more highly skilled, higher-paying positions. Kaiser Permanente is working with its employees’ unions to meet their evolving training needs and keep them competitive in the health care sector. Women are being actively recruited for training programs in transportation maintenance and other occupations where they are underrepresented, while young people are given opportunities to enter aerospace apprenticeships right out of high school.
This new report details these and other examples of the breakthroughs that workforce intermediary partnerships are making to ensure employers have the skilled workforce needed for today’s economy and workers are well-positioned on pathways to family-sustaining careers.
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